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Mage's Blood (Moontide Quartet)

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The months count down at an ever increasing pace, the Moontide approaches and the world’s fate rests on three unlikely heroes. Sweeping conflicts, clashes of cultures, political and personal entanglements, rich and in-depth magic, and mighty warriors dot the landscape. The West clash with the East after a magical bridge is constructed that connects two separate continents of Yuros (west) and Antiopia (east). There is definitely a Game of Thrones feel to this book (after all my copy had a sticker on it saying “If you love Game of Thrones, you’ll want to read this! Alaron’s storyline turns into a Hardy Boys novel, and Ramita and Kazim’s storyline is something stolen from an ABC family teen sitcom.

In fact, it's to be encouraged because we see xenophobia and sexism in these high fantasy books and realize how silly it is that these things exist in our world. I’m simply saying that personally, I need more complexity and less overtly-predictable character descriptions.Combining elements of Indian, Arabic, and even a bit of Chinese culture we get a glimpse into a very rich world. Their populations, including their cultures, languages, religions, rituals and even food and styles of dress are given the same exacting care. MAGE'S BLOOD starts a new epic fantasy series off with accessible magic, a diverse cast, intrigue, mystery, and interconnected storylines. The Moontide Bridge lies deep below the sea, but every 12 years the tides sink and the bridge is revealed, its gates open for trade. You will always be at the edge of your seat with anticipation and shocked when he drops in a huge twists.

Across the ocean, in Javon, Elena Anborn, a ruthless assassin whose world of targets and weaknesses, and strategies of killing enemies and sacrificing friends undergoes a transformation from “head and coin” to “heart and body” and finds herself to be the last (and only! They are positively ancient and powerful, they lay their plans through centuries and work with proxies from behind the scenes. Alaron Mercer is studying to become a Mage and we get to see his final months of study at the famed Mage’s school.

A solid 5* book and I am very, very happy that I have got the second book waiting for me to read it. Hair isn’t afraid to take the story where it needs to go; the results are hard to swallow because by the end I became attached to these characters and I didn’t want to see them suffer. Sounded like it was right up my alley and for the most part I enjoyed the first book in the Moontide Quartet, but unfortunately these dark themes demand mature characters, and the worst thing about Mage’s Blood is the undeniable young adult vibe found within.

Elena, Ramita, and Alaron are the three central characters, and Hair draws them well, the main story revolving around them and what they do; I really appreciated his consistency switching between them, which shows Hair’s excellent control of unfolding story and characterization. The trick is that while we know what is going to happen as we accompany the schemers and contrivers, the main protagonists remain blissfully unaware and walk into the danger incognisant. More than one such example of generic fantasy has been saved in the past by pacing, by ingenious magic systems or by a sense of ridicule that allows the author some tongue-in-cheek humourous banter: all of which were missing in action for me. As you can see, there are many nations, an impeding war/invasion and so you can expect intrigue and political maneuvering. To be honest, setting all that up in 150 pages, for what will ultimately be a four-book series, is actually pretty good.Yuros is the western landmass hosting various nations that have a magical aspect to their theology and chief among the nations are the Rondians who form the empire to rule over the entire continent.

Simply describing one side as always bad and the other as always good and then never deviating from that template doesn’t do it for me.Needless to say, the third Moontide is coming and the tensions between different political designs are at a breaking point.

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